Some of my favorite ways to study the effects of diets and lifestyles on health is to take an objective look at the healthiest cultures on the planet. Although these studies are observational, they study real people living in a real environment. They provide us with invaluable information about how health and longevity are affected by the culture in which we live. Granted, your diet is only part of the total equation. And it must be emphasized that these healthy patterns are based on traditional habits of these cultures. When Western-type diets invade these populations, time and time again, their positive health statistics change generally for the worst. Please watch the video and then go out and buy some sweet potatoes.
How does your intake compare? Where is the broccoli?
What a great program!! It is interesting that feeding a person may cut health care costs in the long run. After some searching, it appears to be only in the Boston and Massachusetts area. It may become a trend if the research indicates its benefits are cost effective. Another interesting fact is that the average age is stated at 49 “with a slew of chronic diseases” and they supposedly have a long waiting list. Could the Standard American Diet (SAD) be a factor? Just a thought.
Industry funded studies are becoming a major influence on nutrition research that is already considered by some to have some important design limitations.
Headlines often proclaim that certain foods have healthy benefits not supported by science. These are used as marketing tools by the companies to describe their products in terms of what is described as a “health halo.” This practice contributes to false claims and the dissemination of nutrition misinformation which is already abundant.
One reason is that research in nutrition is not very well funded by very many sources; therefore, food companies often do provide the funds and at the same time gain their own benefits, i.e., increase their profits.
Should You Get your Nutrients from Super-fortified Foods?
The label on the orange juice container says “calcium added”. The water bottle label says “fortified with vitamin C”; the energy drink s is “fortified with 23 added vitamins and minerals.” Do you need all these extra nutrients ?
These foods may actually act like dietary supplements. If you eat nutritious unprocessed whole foods, you probably do not need fortified foods and even may go over the Tolerable Upper Intake Levels (UL).
The UL is a set of values that are well above the needs of everyone in the population and represents the highest amount of the nutrient that will not cause toxicity symptoms in the majority of healthy people. As intake rises above the UL so does the risk of adverse health effects.
To establish a UL, a specific adverse effect is considered. For example, for niacin, the ill effect is flushing, and for vitamin D it is calcium deposits in soft tissue or kidney damage. For vitamin C it is digestive disturbances. For some nutrients, these values represent intake from supplements alone; for some, intake from supplements and fortified foods, and for others, total intake from foods, fortified food, water and nonfood sources and supplements. For some nutrients, data are insufficient to establish a UL.
“In traditional foods, the amounts of nutrients are small and the way they are combined limits absorption, making the risk of consuming a toxic amount of a nutrient almost nonexistent. On the other hand, this risk rises from eating an excess of a supplement or excessive servings of super-fortified foods.”
Young children may be particularly at risk for toxicity. “A new report says that “millions of children are ingesting potentially unhealthy amounts” of vitamin A, zinc and niacin, with fortified breakfast cereals the leading source of the excessive intake because all three nutrients are added in amounts calculated for adults.”
“Outdated nutritional labeling rules and misleading marketing by food manufacturers who use high fortification levels to make their products appear more nutritious fuel this potential risk, according to the report by the Environmental Working Group (EWG), a Washington, D.C.-based health research and advocacy organization.”
For example, if you drank the recommended two to three liters of fluids as water fortified with vitamin C, niacin, vitamin E and vitamins B6 and B12, you would exceed the UL for these vitamins. Then add two cups of fortified breakfast cereal and two protein bars during the day, your risk of toxicity increases even more. In many of these products, you also could be getting a not so healthy dose of sugar. Should we be consuming super-fortified foods without a thought? I think not. For a previous post, click HERE.
Source: Lori A. Smolin, Mary B. Grosvenor, Nutrition: Science and Applications. Third Edition.
Source: USA Today, Michele Healy, June 24, 2014.
Food historians love to go back in time to compare the menus served at various functions or holidays. Today is Inauguration Day. Enjoy? Love the menu of Jimmy Carter in 1977.
Most legitimate research presents their conflicts of interest (if any) and their funding sources when the study is published in a peer-reviewed journal. Always look for that information; sometimes it is not provided at all or hard to find.